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What are the marshal roles?

Generally speaking F&C marshals rotate through positions/roles in a course of an event or race. However, it is possible to request a role when registering for some events at some tracks. Similarly it is possible to request a position on your station if you are not comfortable performing a specific role. And yet at some events people will claim designated roles specifically for this series, especially the Blue Flag or Communicator roles. It is worth noting that SCCA Pro often plays a support role to a larger event like IndyCar or IMSA, and within SCCA Pro rules there are different series that race at different type of events around the country including Club racing.

SCCA Pro consist of the following Series:

  • Pirelli World Challenge (PWC)
  • Mazda MX-5 Cup
  • Trans-Am
  • F1600
  • F2000

Most SCCA Pro series are multi-class racing series, and each class is color coded to represent whether it is a GT, GTA, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB,  etc. Even if the cars look identical they may be in a different class with different speeds on track.

SCCA Pro series use the North American Unified Flagging System.

What are the SCCA Pro flag rules?

Shades of flags are used to represent different track condition. A particular flag may be 1) held stationary 2) rocked side-to-side, up-down or 3) waved as required.

yellow - stationary - singleStationary Yellow flag is used when a vehicle is stopped or crashed off the racing line and possibly well off the track. Or in an event of a large piece of debris present on racing line that cars cannot simply drive over. Watch for and report passes under stationary Yellow flag.

Rocking Yellow flag side to side or up and down is used to get a driver’s attention to reduce speed. This flag is used when there is an incident off the racing line or even well off the track but another vehicle is approaching the turn full speed, especially if it is a blind turn. Watch for and report passing under rocked Yellow flag.

yellow - waving - singleWaving Yellow flag is required when a vehicle is crashed or stopped on track, on the racing line. Vigorous waving is required when the disabled vehicle is in a dangerous position, attempting to re-enter the race while facing counter race traffic, or there are marshals present on course responding to an incident. Watch for and report passing under waved Yellow flag.

yellow - stationary - doubleDouble Stationary Yellow flags are displayed stationary in a side by side manner when Race Control calls for full course caution or safety car period. Race control must give the command for double stationary Yellow flags to be displayed. IMSA does not use an SC board. Passing may happen under full course caution when Race Control calls for passaround’s or waveby’s. Remember to wave your incident as per normal during a full course Yellow to warn drivers of danger, you will remain waving a Yellow flag because likely marshals will be present on track performing the recovery. Once the recovery finishes and your part of the track is clear, you may downgrade to Double Yellow flags in a stationary position.

yellow - waved - doubleDouble Waved Yellow flags are displayed in an extremely dangerous situation warranting urgent and extreme caution to be displayed. In race conditions double waved yellow flags would tell the drivers that there is a major incident and immediate braking is required especially if marshals are exposed on the track. Double waved Yellow is an “Alert” type scenario in a major emergency.

Race Control may request a station to display any kind of Yellow flag, this includes stationary and waved Yellow flags preceding a station with an incident to show extra warning to the drivers. At some station automatic backup Yellow flag is required to increase the warning period. Follow the instructions issued by your Flag Chief and your Corner Captain during the morning meetings. If you are not sure then do ask!

green - wavingGreen flag is waved at the station following an incident displaying a Yellow flag. The cars may not overtake until they reach the station with a waving Green flag. Watch for and report any cars that pass before your Green flag. Green flags are also waved at the start of the practice sessions and race restarts.

Any shade of Blue flag or Blue flag with a Yellow or Orange diagonal stripe is displayed only for lapping during a race and as required during practice and qualifying sessions.

blue - stationaryStationary Blue flag is displayed to a slower vehicle when a faster vehicle is quickly approaching.

Rocked Blue flag side to side is displayed to a slower vehicle when a faster vehicle is directly behind but is looking for the right opportunity to overtake.

blue - wavingWaved Blue flag is displayed when a slower vehicle is being overtaken by a faster vehicle. This is done to any lower class being overtaken by a higher class vehicle, or any of the lapped vehicles in the same class. The cars are nose-to-tail or even side by side. Passing is imminent.

white - stationaryStationary White flag is displayed for a slow moving vehicle that is significantly off pace. If the vehicle is so slow that it looks stationary to fast approaching traffic, a waved Yellow should be used. White flag is also displayed for emergency vehicles moving on track. When the emergency vehicle stops or when it stops and marshals enter onto the track surface then a Waved Yellow is displayed taking precedence over the White flag.

surface - flag - debrisSurface or Lack of Adhesion, also sometimes referred to as Debris flag is used when oil or small debris is present. Surface flag is always displayed stationary and never waved. If the debris is too large and cannot be driven over then a Waved Yellow flag is used suggesting imminent danger. White and Surface flags may be displayed simultaneously to warn of service vehicles on track and slick or oily condition. Yellow and Surface flags may be displayed simultaneously when marshals are working on the slick or oily track and are not yet finished laying down kitty litter.

black - stationaryStationary Black flag is displayed to stop or end a session. The command to wave the Black flag must come from Race Control it is not a discretionary flag. All cars should proceed to the Pit Lane as the result. Passing under Black flag is of no major concern. Report any passing that isn’t safe in nature but keep in mind that tying up the network with a minor call interferes with a far more important call that actually caused the Black flag.

What are the Full Course Yellow & Restart procedures?

The procedure takes a number of laps to complete giving each class the opportunity to make pit stops once the pit stop window is open. Each class or a combination of classes pit during their designated pit window. Waveby’s and passaround’s may occur before the start of the pit window period and at the conclusion of the pit window period depending on the class.

Once the safety car lights go out all Double Yellow flags are removed from display. Green flag is displayed on all stations for restarts.

Be extra caution on restarts because SCCA Pro series are famous for major incidents as soon as Green flag is thrown, and the full course caution is resumed as a result.

What are the response procedures?

SCCA Pro does not want safety marshals to respond. Whenever possible, track safety is used in their response vehicles. However, situations arise where it makes more sense to deploy a safety marshal for a quick debris run or to push off a stalled vehicle behind the safety barrier if that vehicle is really close to the opening anyway. Remember any response is only done with Race Control permission. Ask first, do later.

In the event of a debris run, be on stand-by near the closest available point of entry to the track with a clear route in mind to recover the debris and continue to safety. Remember to fetch the debris quickly but not at full speed to avoid tripping and falling on the race track. Be sure to empty your pockets or remove any loose hanging articles so you don’t drop them on the race track causing more debris. Also keep in mind that often it is easier to kick off the debris off the track, which may be flat and hard to pick up while wearing gloves. So long as the debris is off the racing line your job is done. It can be removed after the event concludes.

When responding to a stricken vehicle or vehicles, place the vehicle between yourself and the oncoming traffic. This way if someone else were to crash, the vehicle would shield you. Push the stricken vehicle to the nearest point of safety which could be behind a safety barrier or far enough along the safety barrier that is considered a safer spot.

When responding to a stricken vehicle and a Wrecker is used. Be sure to use the Wrecker (Manitou, JCB or Gehl) to shield yourself form the oncoming traffic. Keep in mind that the Wrecker driver may not see you so your most important job is to look out for your own safety. Don’t rely on the driver to look out for you as he may be focused on the vehicle and other aspects of the recovery. Don’t make his job more difficult, stay well away from wheels, boom, or the stricken vehicle once it is up in the air.

If there is debris during a wrecker recovery, a team of safety marshals may be required to either clear up the debris by picking it up, kicking it off the racing line or using kitty litter to soak up any fluids and oil off the racing surface. The less marshals that are present track side, especially under a local Yellow condition, the better. It is important to cover any marshals on track with a waved double Yellow flags at all times.

When track safety vehicles are used in a response to an incident, they take priority over a safety marshal, so it is important to remember to stay out of their way and not interfere. They are far better equipped to deal with whatever the incident may involve than a track marshal.

What are the communications procedures?

Depending on who the feature series is, the communications and radio etiquette will be dictated by Race Control.

However the basics include the same line whenever making a call:

“Control > This is Station Four > Waving Yellow”

Stop and wait for Control to respond: “Station Four Go Ahead”

“Car Number > Color > Spun Center Track Stopped > Attempting to Continue > Stationary Yellow ”

“Car Number > Color > Stopped in the Runoff, Now Continuing Slowly  > And Continued > White Flag”

“Car Number > Color > Four Off > Drivers Left > And Continued > No Flag”

For longer transmissions insert a “Break” into the middle of a long sentence, or a convenient point between multiple thoughts, and key up the radio again to continue, to make the transmission shorter.

Depending on the circuit a Landline or FM radio may be used. The difference between the Landline and FM radio are:

On the Landline everyone can talk at the same time. When you have a call of serious nature you can speak over someone else and the focus will be on you. There’s always a buzz on the Network that gets annoying with time. The buzz increases when the circuit is wet.

On the FM radio you must key up first, whether on the headset or the actual radio. Wait for a beep if audible or just wait a second before starting to talk. Use throw away words so that if you do cut yourself off you will still get your full message across. Throw away words are: “Control”, “Control, Control”, “Race Control”, “Able”, etc. If you start off with “Station Four” and the first part gets cut off, Race Control and other Stations around you will only hear “Four” which is neither here nor there and the whole transmission will have to be repeated.

Always acknowledge a transmission from Race Control by saying “Station Four Copy”

Remember to keep the Microphone close to your lips so your transmission is broadcast loud and clear, the further away it is from your mouth the more background noise will be picked up. And with self noise-cancelling Mic’s your transmission will be very weak.

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Motorsport Marshal, Miata Driver, Hot Wheels Collector